A.L.D Memories

Childhood Memories Growing up at A.L.D.

As children we can recall growing up in a very kind and tolerant environment. We were allowed completely free roaming privileges at our beloved nursery. We can clearly remember when a fresh load of top soil or sand was delivered, we immediately claimed a side of the pile and started to build a small landscape setting, complete with small roads and yards with small houses. Of course we populated the sites with small twigs for trees and stones and gravel for the roads and walkways. Small ponds would require scraps of plastic to help hold water. We would proudly develop the whole top pile and then go to fetch Mama and Papa to come see our creation. So much for the much needed and expensive screened top soil! My father would often come to see our creation with caring observation. My mother would have to be the one to demand the pile be restored to a usable condition.

To continue along this tolerance theme we always had a multitude of pets of all kinds. Of course, our father and mother both allowed us to have conventional pets, but also special pets that nobody else could have. Cats, dogs, chickens, geese, lambs (that became sheep), racoons (lots of them), monkeys and a pot belly pig. Three of the racoons were brought to us as babies (three of them newborn). Some of these critters needed heated protection at home. You can imagine the tolerance and patience both Father and Mother had to have. All of us kids loved these animals dearly. we know that this tolerance allowed us to learn a lot about the nature of life and how it needs to be tended to. "Pflegen" (intensive care) was a concept we were acquainted with from an early age.

As we became older......teenagers......, the normal challenges to be steered in the correct path became apparent. As individuals we were easily permitted to pursue dreams and aspirations as we saw fit. We were allowed to travel at will. Not that much financial assistance was available, because times were tough and yet we had no expectations. We were taught that hard consistent work would eventually provide what we needed. Much of our knowledge and retail experience was gleaned early on by listening to our Mother serve clients in the store and after we were then able to find and show the plants.

Eva Schmitz remembers leading customers to the plants they had requested to see, on route she would read up information in the A.L.D. descriptive catalogue by the age of 10. She knew the latin names of thousands of plants by her early teens. She loved this field early on!

Hans Jr. recalls getting our all important drivers license at 16, this being the middle of October, when things would typically wind down. He had this burning desire to experience a road trip of some sort. Well, we had this new large 5 ton truck and Hans decided we needed stone materials for landscape work. We needed to bring a load in, from of all places, St. Catherine's Ontario. Yes, straight down the 401, through Toronto, and pick a load of stone we would have needed the following spring. What an experience.

Our mother always had our father decide what was needed in this regard. But we clearly realized that our father allowed us this incredible freedom to learn and experience life and all of its challenges. He fostered and knew we needed heightened levels of motivation, combined with the basic lessons of life that we had acquired, to allow us to grow into caring individual human beings. We really thank him and our mother for this!

Our mother is an Icon in Ottawa, easily recognized, loved (and sometimes feared) by her clients for the devotion to the care of plant material. Now, also manifest in his children, is, our father's strong sense of duty. This will, we are certain, deeply enrich our purpose in life. We remember the relentless occupation of watering our living plants at the nursery.

This manual task of pulling hoses, setting up sprinklers, tending to the pumps, drawing water from our precious creek, seemed to us, all consuming and maybe at time fanatic. My father would check the fringes of the sprinkled areas to see that no plants "suffered dryness". It must be noted, that the concern for the plant's welfare was of much greater concern than their financial value. My father possessed a delicious sense of humor, for example, when occasionally enlisted by clients to help them pick out a good plant in the nursery, he'd choose the obvious runt in the line-up - the puzzled customer would object and ask...why this one it looks weak! Precisely...he would reply with a serious demeanor...that's why we need to get this one a good home right away! Customers visiting us in the spring with a plant that appeared not to have survived an Ottawa winter, where upon our father, in appropriate circumstances exclaimed, " we can sell you a cross for this poor plant". In bewilderment, a customer would ask where they were located.

And if our mother was nearby, she would listen in and take command of the plant inspection to find evidence of whether or not, life was still present in the now bare rooted plant. Often customers were speedily sent home to replant a just dormant specimen. Our father relished in the preservation of plants (as mentioned by our brother about the concept of "Pflegen" loving nurturing and compassionate care).

Another example of our father's humor was the Staff and payday...Every Thursday afternoon the staff would line up to see him in his office. He would say in mock horror "what again, another cheque..are you sure you worked hard enough this week"? Or he would say halfway through..come back tomorrow I've signed enough today!

We recall the numerous time we sat in our VW transporter truck to go home, well after dark, waiting for Papa to finish these chores. Sometimes a quick last customer visit in Kanata, would be included. Since our trucks never had the luxury of a radio, our mother would sing to us, or if we waited alone, a little teasing and game playing would occur.

My parents loved classical music...even our pet racoons loved classical music...on our family outings to the Montreal Botanical Gardens in the back of the Mercedes they would be very quiet! Our father endured the "animal" chaos in a pleasant, calm way as our monkey would hit the seed racks in search of sunflower seeds and proceed to spread them throughout the grounds. Our elegant father whose family owned large textile factories for generations in Germany pre-war, took all that in stride with his measured, peaceful bearing. Oh how we have absorbed the beauty of your soul each in our own ways. We proudly carry on what you created!

We deeply miss our father and his wholesome goodness. Now our focus will be to console our mother, who has lost not only her soul mate but an exceedingly good person. It is our duty to carry on with a meaningful existence that will embody the legacy our father has left. Our mother continued to work diligently on classifying and documenting plant material and on plant care sheets well into her 70's.

Technology has at once unbridled a plethora of new possibilities to advance the physical endeavors of man however it may be said that it has diminished the soulfulness of our existence. Deep philosophical re-atunement is in order. This is the imperative that our father contemplated all his life.

This "Pflegen" which translated has a composite meaning of "loving nurturing and compassionate care" was a conviction to nurture and care of not only fellow humans but also all plants and all animals.

His landscape designs were a philosophical statement in which the individuality of each plant was placed into the most appropriate setting to allow its integral beauty to flourish, the placement of each stone to emphasize texture and depth and the energetic flow of water was blended into a synchronized harmonious whole that was greater than its parts. A splendid feast for our humanly senses to further our spiritual well being.

Our father and mother were fully and continuously cognizant of their place in the larger scheme. They had an unfailing presence of mind.

Our parents believed that all tasks performed should be carried out with a deliberate intent to serve the greater good not only for humanity but for all of creation. Even the sweeping of a floor was an expression of love for humanity. The greatest and noblest of all undertakings is in the farming of crops and husbandry of livestock as it serves to nourish and sustain the community of people.

Our children (third generation) are now becoming active at A.L.D. We all continue to apply ourselves to the best of our capacities, Thank You,

The Schmitz clan, second generation

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